Champion cyclist Obree tried to hang himself after injury problems

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The former world cycling champion Graeme Obree tried to kill himself, fearing that his sporting career was over.

Obree, 36, who was diagnosed with manic depression three years ago, was moments from death when he was found hanging from the rafters of a barn a few days before Christmas. He has two children.

The cyclist is thought to have disappeared from his home in Ayrshire and driven to a secluded farm several miles away, in Kilmaurs, before attempting to hang himself. He was found unconscious by the daughter of the farmer, Robin Smith, who raised the alarm.

Paramedics revived the critically ill sportsman and he was taken to nearby Crosshouse Hospital. He was transferred to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow amid fears that he might have suffered brain damage.

Yesterday, the twice world champion was back at his family home in Irvine, Ayrshire, but was unwilling to talk about what had happened.

His wife, Anne, a nurse, whom he married in 1989, said: "Christmas is always an emotional time for Graeme because his brother isn't around." Obree's brother Gordon, from Newcastle upon Tyne, died aged 30 in a car crash in south-west Scotland in October 1994.

"He doesn't want to talk about anything. He can't remember the incident," she said, adding that Obree had recently changed his medication for depression and that "the illness may have kicked in before the medication did".

Obree broke the one-hour record held by the Italian champion Francesco Moser in 1993. He had a passion for his sport, the determination to succeed and constructeda bicycle using a bearing salvaged from an old washing machine. When the Union Cycliste Internationale banned his home-made design he adapted it by using a child's mountain-bike saddle and extending the handlebars beyond his front wheel.

He went on to win the world title for a second time in 1995. Butlater the same year he was dismissed by the French cycling team Le Groupement a week after signing a two-year contract. His problems worsenedlast year when he suffered a serious knee injury falling from his bike in a night-time training run.